Tuesday Meme

Top Ten Tuesday: “Ten Books Every x Should Read”

TopTenTuesday

Thank you to The Broke and The Bookish for this wonderful meme! If you want to learn how to participate, click here and check it out. Promise you won’t regret it.

Oh man! It has been two months since Veronica and I participated in the TTT. And it’s super great to be back at it.

This weeks TTT is “Ten Books Ever x Should Read“.

Since I am a huge fantasy junky… my TTT is “Ten Books Every Fantasy Lover Should Read “.

 1. Six of Crows cause you doesn’t love a story with magic, romance, action, heists, robbery, and more?Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)

2. The Square Root of Summer. Time travel, science fiction, romance, and quantum physics. You had me at time-travel! The Square Root of Summer

3. The Wrath and The Dawn. Fairy-tale retellings? Magic carpets? Unexplained magic? Blossoming love? Uh, I’m in! And so should you! The Wrath & the Dawn (The Wrath & the Dawn, #1)

4. Half-Blood. Because I can never get enough about Greek mythology, fantasy lovers should read The Covenant Series! Greek Gods, Demi Gods, Half-bloods, Titans. So. Much. Lore. Half-Blood (Covenant, #1)

5. A Matter of Fate. This series I read last summer and it just blew me away. It’s a contemporary fantasy, making it easier to read, and more realistic… if magic and super powers were real. Also there is romance, and a love triangle (but not in a gross Twilight way.)A Matter of Fate (Fate, #1)

6. Under Different Stars. This series was quite unique. Taking place on both earth and the main character’s home planet. It definitely requires imagination and an open mind. But, none the less, it is packed full of fantasy elements. Under Different Stars (Kricket, #1)

7. Queen of the Tearling. This was an interesting fantasy read. Two queens, one with power, the other- barely functioning. They fight over land and resources, and how they came this world came to be is quite extraordinary. The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #1)

8. Abandon. Another Greek mythology retelling, this one about Persephone and Hades. Takes place on a tiny island full of weird creatures. Abandon (Abandon, #1)

9. Fallen. I haven’t really given you any paranormal reads yet, and this one is fantastic. Angels, demons, two families at war, forbidden love. Fallen (Guardian Trilogy, #1)

10. Teardrop. A story about a girl, who if she cries, will flood the world. Based on the mythology of Atlantis. Teardrop (Teardrop Trilogy)

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Reviews, YA Fantasy

Book Review: Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell

Unhooked

GoodReads Summary:

For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home—all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. Now these delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. The only saving grace is her best friend, Olivia, who’s coming with them for the summer.

But when Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey, Gwen realizes her mom might have been sane all along.

The world Gwen finds herself in is called Neverland, yet it’s nothing like the stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through her fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the roguish young pirate who promises to keep her safe.

With time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But will she be able to save Neverland without losing herself?

My Review:

Listen to Lost Boy by Ruth B while you read this. I couldn’t get it out of my head while I read Unhooked.

Recently I have been in a pirate mood. I finished The Girl From Everywhere and Blackhearts. Let me tell you, when searching for good YA pirate books, there aren’t many out there… unless you want Fabio on the cover and then that is NOT a YA book. So in my searchings, I came across Unhooked. I am not usually one for Peter Pan and Neverland stories, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to give it a try.

I finished Unhooked in 24 hours.

Lisa Maxwell really draws you into the story through her narrative. And what’s great, there is more than one narrative being told.

Unhooked is not your traditional Peter Pan/ Captain Hook story. It literally unhooks the classic stories you’ve heard before and spins them on their head. Maxwell shows that not all “heroes” are good and that not all “villains” are bad. It is a deeper look at the decisions a person makes and how those decisions change the course of a person’s life. The simple act of turning off a light, or signing a paper.

“Since being brought to this world, I’ve come to understand that everything I’ve ever learned about good and evil, about choices we make and the choices we must live with, have been nothing more than convenient fictions invented by those who have never been confronted by the darkness and actually forced to choose.”

At the beginning, the relationships between Gwen, the Captain, and Pan are very convoluted. You don’t know who is telling the truth and who is lying. And as the story unfolds, truths become complicated, lies destroy. The tension between Gwen and the Captain is swoon worthy. I couldn’t get enough of him.

This is what I pictured every time.

When I started reading, about 100 pages in, I tweeted that I was sure my heart was going to break before the story ended, and I was right. There is a twist I didn’t see coming and it changes everything.

If you like retellings that go more in depth with the character development, that give characters their own backgrounds and their own internal struggles, definitely read Unhooked. If you like pirate stories, with heroes, villains, magic, and romance, also read this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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Reviews, YA Historical, YA Sci Fi

Book Review: The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

The Girl from Everywhere (The Girl from Everywhere, #1)

GoodReads Summary:

Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.

As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.

But the end to it all looms closer every day.

Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.

For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.

She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.

Or she could disappear.

My Review:

When I first started The Girl From Everywhere, I was really worried it was going to be so similar to other time-travel novels I have read.  Specifically, Passenger by Alexandra Bracken. So I went into this novel with low expectations, not really sure I would like what I found. And I have to say I was extremely wrong! Which, in this case, feels amazing.

Heidi Heilig tells a very original, profound story.She grew up in Hawaii and took the tales and folk lore she learned and wrapped them into an adventure full of beauty and paradise. Also, Heilig’s idea of time travel, using maps of different places and times is quite imaginative. I haven’t read a story where that is how time is traveled by.

Nix, the main character, was born in Hawaii, but after her mother dies, her father takes her aboard his ship. This is where she lives for 16 years. Nix, her dad, and their crew travel to different continents through time. All the while, her father is in search of a particular map, to take him back to the time before Nix’s mother died. And this is how the story twists and turns, in search of a map.

The relationship Heilig presents between Nix and Slate (her father) is one that is truthful, distant, and full of regret. She regards him with distance. She is resentful of his dependence on her because she is the “expert” with maps. And she is fearful that when he finds the map, her life will change for the worse. He wants to go back to before her mother passed away, therefore changing her current life. Will she become a different person? Or will she disappear all together? And it is very clear that Slate doesn’t think about the consequences of his actions. He is very narrow minded.

The events that take place over the course of The Girl From Everywhere really show character growth. Not only from Nix, but from her father as well as crewmate Kashmir. Kashmir is an interesting character, with a very unique background. The relationship between him and Nix is full of tension. There were moments when, had Nix said something, their friendship could have moved to be more. But because she is fretful of her father’s plan, and her own longing to escape Slate, she keeps Kashmir as a distance as well. She is mostly worried about losing him, and becoming her father. She is witness to what happens when you lose the love of your life.

The Girl From Everywhere is refreshing and envisioning. I thoroughly enjoyed the intertwining relationships between all the characters.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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NA Romance, Reviews

ContempConvos: November 9 by Colleen Hoover

November 9

GoodReads Summary:

Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day before her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon’s last day in L.A. together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. Over time and amidst the various relationships and tribulations of their own separate lives, they continue to meet on the same date every year. Until one day Fallon becomes unsure if Ben has been telling her the truth or fabricating a perfect reality for the sake of the ultimate plot twist.

My Review:

I’d first like to thank Veronica for starting me reading Colleen Hoover. I have fallen in love with her writing and story telling, and November 9 is no exception. Also, November is my favorite month…

This story is magical, with heartbreak, and lots of character growth since it take place over the course of five years. Fallon and Ben meet once a year, on November 9th, to update each other on what has happened in their lives in the past year. It’s adorable how they come together, and tragic, due to the circumstances that follow their initial meeting. Fallon and Ben are both extremely complicated characters with pasts that haunt their present. Ben helps Fallon through her confidence issues; Fallon helps Ben through his writing.

Hoover provides many quotable moments, but my favorite is in the beginning, when Ben and Fallon meet on the first November 9th: “Goals are achieved through discomfort and hard work. They aren’t achieved when you hide out in a place where you are nice and cozy.” I think that quote sets the mood for the book. In order to understand yourself, sometimes you have to go through discomfort and pain to truly know, not only yourself, but what you are capable of. Fallon’s mother states, “You’ll never be able to find yourself if you’re lost in someone else.” And I wholeheartedly agree with her. Before you can love someone else, you have to love yourself.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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Reviews, ya contemporary

ARC Review: 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl

Goodreads Summary:

Growing up in the suburban hell of Misery Saga (a.k.a. Mississauga), Lizzie has never liked the way she looks—even though her best friend Mel says she’s the pretty one. She starts dating guys online, but she’s afraid to send pictures, even when her skinny friend China does her makeup: she knows no one would want her if they could really see her. So she starts to lose. With punishing drive, she counts almonds consumed, miles logged, pounds dropped. She fights her way into coveted dresses. She grows up and gets thin, navigating double-edged validation from her mother, her friends, her husband, her reflection in the mirror. But no matter how much she loses, will she ever see herself as anything other than a fat girl?

In her brilliant, hilarious, and at times shocking debut, Mona Awad simultaneously skewers the body image-obsessed culture that tells women they have no value outside their physical appearance, and delivers a tender and moving depiction of a lovably difficult young woman whose life is hijacked by her struggle to conform. As caustically funny as it is heartbreaking, 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl introduces a vital new voice in fiction.

Review:

I really enjoyed reading 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl because I empathized with Lizzie. Struggling with weight in a society that won’t accept you if you aren’t skinny is difficult. It affects you mentally and physically. The book is an eye opener- you need to be comfortable in whatever body type you have. And if you are heavier and lose weight, your thought mentality won’t change just because you lost that weight; you’ll always be worried about getting fat again… like Lizzie does. Reading through this I definitely understood the thoughts Lizzie has- trying on clothes is the worst experience, nothing fits right, she has a difficult time looking at and talking about her body, and she has a lot of insecurities with guys because of her weight.

The ending wasn’t my favorite, but it makes sense. As a women, I believe we need to accept our bodies and while Lizzie may not ever accept her body, she understands that this is only body she has, therefore she needs to take care of it.

Mona Awad takes a deep look at the character’s flaws and insecurities, and should be a must read for all women whether you are skinny, fat, short, tall, etc. It is reflective of our current society and something we need to change.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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This book will be released on February 26, 2016. And is available at Amazon and B&N.

Disclaimer: Thank you First to Read and Penguin Random House for providing the opportunity to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this book for free does not influence my opinion.

Reviews, ya romance

Book Review: The Love That Split The World by Emily Henry

The Love That Split the World

GoodReads Summary:

Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.

Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start… until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.

That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.

Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.

Review:

The Love That Split The World is an enchanting read about young love and time travel. Natalie can see two different versions of her hometown, Union, and meets an intriguing guy, Beau, when she slips into the alternate town. Her grandmother, a “spirit”, tells her at the beginning of the book that she has three months to save “him”, but Natalie doesn’t know who “he” is. She spends the summer trying to discover who this guy she is supposed to save is, but also who she is and what she wants.

I found this book to be very interesting. There are stories within the overarching story itself. These stories come from old Native American tales passed down through generations, but also stories out of the bible. For Natalie, these stories have meaning because she is part Native American. Natalie is a complex character trying to find out who she is and where she fits in with the world. Since she is adopted, and one half Native American, she finds it difficult to determine where she fits in. When she meets Beau, who is an equally complex character, she is certain she has found someone who understands her circumstances because he is having a difficult time determining where he fits into the world as well.

Grandmother is a curious character. She tells stories that you don’t fully understand until the moment the Natalie understands them. She is an odd duck, only appearing to Natalie during the nighttime speaking in riddles.

Beau is my favorite character. He is chivalrous and benevolent. He is, generally,always there for Natalie when she needs him the most. And the bond that is formed between them is unbreakable.

Emily Henry’s writing is wonderful. I loved her use of the story within a narrative. As a reader, we are being told that these tales are important to the character in her quest to save a boy and discover herself. They play a major part in the plot and are a kind of foreshadowing, though at the time of reading them I didn’t know what they were foreshadowing.

I enjoyed the book, but I am not a fan of the ending. I was left with questions and wasn’t fulfilled. I need closure from my characters.

**SPOILERS** Don’t read below this point if you haven’t read! **SPOILERS**

If you have finished The Love That Split The World, great! I truly did love this book, HOWEVER, I did not love the ending. I was left with so many freaking questions and it made me angry (Veronica heard all about how angry it made me).

The second to last chapter leaves us with Natalie making the choice to try and change history, the accident’s that left both her and Beau dead in their own worlds. GREAT! I love that idea. However, the last chapter is another story, telling us how a girl had never met a boy but she had missed him. I get the continuity with the story, and metaphorically, we can draw our own conclusions- Natalie succeeded in saving them both and they live happily ever after. I am not one to assume these things. I enjoy solid closure. I like to know FOR CERTAIN that she changes their timelines and they end up together.

This is why a star was knocked off for me.

**End Spoilers***

Rating: 4 out of 5

NA Contemporary, NA Romance, Reviews, Special Review

Book Review: Scarred by Joanne Macgregor

Scarred

GoodReads Summary:

“Life leaves you scarred. Love can make you beautiful.”

Seventeen year-old Sloane Munster is trying to reboot her life after a serious car accident left her badly scarred and emotionally traumatized.

Starting her senior year at a new school, she’s delighted to see Luke Naughton, a swimmer whom she once crushed on, in the class in front of her. But when he glares back at her with disgust and revulsion, she’s shocked and hurt, and assumes it’s because of her appearance. Despite misunderstandings, the chemistry between them sparks and love grows against a background of guilt, secrets, and mounting tensions at a school where bullying is rife and Sloane is not the most deeply scarred person.

Sharp with bittersweet humor, Scarred is an intense, beautiful, compelling story of life, death and fighting for love against all the odds.

Review:

Scarred is about Sloane Munster, who suffers from a tragic accident in her life, leaving her physically and mentally scarred. Due to the trauma, she spends almost a year in hiding, finishing her junior year with private tutors. But through the help of her therapist, Sloane attends a new school for senior year, where she runs into old faces, new faces, and has to come to terms with the actions of her mother as well as herself and how she will move forward with her life.

Joanne Macgregor’s writing is a graceful look at the physical and emotional aftermath of a tragedy in a person’s life. It is evocative. It doesn’t push aside the effects mental illness has on a person. Or how, through the support of friends, family, and love, a person can move forward in their life- move past the tragedy and see there is a bright future ahead of them.

When I first started this book, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it. Sloane Munster felt very one dimensional- she was focusing on how she looked and how her life used to be. She was beautiful. She was popular. “I didn’t used to get called anything nasty about my appearance, I used to be pretty. The GG’s- short for Gorgeous Girls- that’s what our clique was called, in my old school.” However, after moving further into the book, Sloane becomes more than a one dimensional character. The scar is just a representation of her emotions. By the end, I fell in love and didn’t want it to end.

Sloane is a truly tragic, and complex, character who has to adjust to her life A.S.- after scar. The girls at her new school taunt her looks, which shows just how juvenile and immature teenage girls can be. It also is a reflection of our society and how much pressure we put on young girls when it comes to physical appearances. She has to deal with boys staring at her. She has to acquiesce the lose of her family and guilt of ruining another family.

I truly enjoyed when Luke, Sloane’s love interest, was given a chapter. He is a central character, not only to Sloane’s development through out the book, but to the story itself. Seeing his point of view is vital to understanding his involvement in the accident and how he develops as a character. As a side sub-plot, the book also address the treatment of others in general, whether it is a student-student relationship, a student-teacher relationship, or a child-parent relationship, and how that can impact a person’s life, positively or negatively.

Joanne Macgregor is a counseling psychologist who specializes in victims of crime and trauma. It is very apparent that she knows what she is writing about; it is captivating and emotional and clearly understood from a psychologist’s point of view.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a gripping story of tragedy, loss, and survival. I think an anthem to this book is Scars to You Beautiful by Alessia Cara. Go listen to it during/after reading this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5

I’d like to thank Joanne Macgregor for the opportunity to read Scarred in return for an honest review. Receiving this book for free doesn’t influence my opinion.